Wednesday 28 September 2022

A trip to Pembroke

I have happy memories of Pembroke, somewhat blurred by the passage of about 25 years. Army Dreamers, Joyous Gard, Jim Lind, Angus Atkinson, Matteus, Ma Weston's and so on. And also - but am I misremembering? - the trip down into a beautiful sunrise, listening to the results of the 1997 general election. Aanyway, this is now. Seeking to reinvigorate my flagging aging rock star status and pushed by something Myra wrote on fb, I bethought me of the Cambridge Climbing and Caving Club and lo! They had planned a trip to Pembroke, so I contacted them, and we (me, M and E) joined in.

As it turned out, we climbed as a three and so could have done it alone. But it was good to join in, we used their abseil rope, and it is always rather reassuring to have someone else at the crag when you're abbing down towards the sea. The trip was officially four days - arrive Fri, climb Sat-Sun-Mon, leave Mon - but we left on Sunday evening. 

My pix are in the 2022 Pembroke album on Flickr.

Friday: leave 5:30 arrive 11:30 pm. Laurent (our trip organiser) is still around say hello; tent up; toilet block; sleep.

Saturday: sleep well up 8:30 bfast porridge. I packed a box of matches from the kitchen but it turned out to be full of used matches; fortunately we can borrow some from others (and we need matches because the striker on the stove broke and got thrown away a few of E's trips ago). Here we see E attempting to squeeze "squeezy" honey from the last Ecrins trip into the porridge.


Say hello to various but I forget their names. People talk of Mythical Monster and Huntsman's Leap but happily it turns out we're all / mostly around the S-plus level so the proposal is Bow-Shaped Slab which I vaguely remember; and possibly remember failing to find it. To the far carpark and walk in 1.5 k (GPS trace) and generally agree we're there: just past the fence and cattle grid, you can see the "sandy bit" from above and then the slab. Part of the joy of Pemroke - well, of climbing in generally usually - is the scenery; here are the Elegug Stacks passed on the way (view including the beach).


[Not very useful guide to identification: here is what you can see of the slab from above, from "the sandy bit". Notice the people on the far side: you can scramble down that way, at low tide, but it is probably more effort than the abseil.] Here's a pano from just about the slab itself.


Do Bomb Corner (Diff) cos other routes are busy and ME want to start easy which it is. No problem. Here's E nearly finished abbing in. Bomb Corner is, well, the corner: roughly the line of the rope. The next route right, Inset Slab, goes up the, errm, inset slab before continuing up on the leftish side of the main slab. Our next route, Bow-Shaped Slab (HS 4b), is right of that and sticks to the middle of the main slab.


Abseil back (using prussik this time) for Bow-Shaped Slab. It is 40+ m (so I start running out of gear...) and steepens quite excitingly at the end, as the holds thin out. Testing shall we say. But I feel alive. Here's E, near the top, courtesy of M:


The person behind in purple is on Bow-Shaped Corner, also HS.

Sit around for lunch for a bit. Then, pm: back towards the car park to Flimstone slab (GPS trace) with Laurent and Alex and (after some ab rope faff, but which turns out to give us a valuable rest) do Brass in Pocket (S 4a), though it is only that for a bit near the top. Pic: on the belay at the bottom. Pic below: me from a secure stance on BiP, Laurent leading Flimston Slab (VD), Alex belaying him, M and E on the hanging belay. This pic exaggerates the steepness; there's one with a level horizon here.


5 done 6 back to car after diversion to Green Bridge of Wales; to St Govans country inn Bosterton but it is all reserved. So we three sit with drink, let others do the hard organisational work, and await Whatsapp summons to wherever. Which turns out to be Mehfils in Pembroke itself, a decent curry house.

Bed 10 sleep... Not so deeply me. 

Sunday: Up 8 loo sees departure of curry :-)

Slow b'fast - should camp on far side for morning sun, we get slivers. Here's a general view towards the campsite toilets+showers; it is a nice rural place on this quiet morning; apparently somewhat more busy of a bank holiday. View the other way.


Then various head off, we'll join Alex+Laur at Saddle Head. First a quick look at St Petrox church, which is just next to the site, but which turns out to be closed.

To Saddle Head (GPS trace) via looking at St Govan's chapel and its little cove, and Huntsman's Leap just as they've fixed up the abseil rope. There's also a scramble out to the saddle then back round that E does, just as I get down. M feeling somewhat gripped - the ab is steep / o'hanging - so sits out. With E, do Flake-Quake (S 4a) then HVD (Forgotten Chimney) that was harder. I don't have a good pic of all that. Here, from on the saddle looking back, I think we see someone on Sunset Boulevard, HVS. On the skyline, orange-helment (Alex?) is at the top of the ab rope, which is on the line of Forgotten Chimney. As you see there's a nice platform well above tide level; Blue Sky is tidal, and would be at the left, where the inlet is.


And thats us for the weekend. We're finishing a bit early, but I think all three of us have found that the long steep climbs are a bit wearing after so long away. E wants a run; so we go to the St Govan's car park, she runs; we drive to the Broad Haven carpark and meet her there. We hand over her swimming costume and she swims out to sea, which for me provides a beautiful atmospheric ending.


 While she is out I find her lost sock, and then hand over her towel and clothes. Then, one last thing, tea at Ma Weston's (though it is her no longer, but still the Ye Olde Worlde Cafe; selfie of us three); then back to pack and off 4 and home 10:30, in pretty good shape.



Monday 19 September 2022

Book review: The Documents in the Case

DSCN1880 The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L. Sayers. Picked up in WS as a successor to Whose Body, since I seem to have exhausted the entirety of modern SciFi and Fantasy. As a story it is fine; not a classic but perfectly readable, told mostly via the medium of letters, hence the title. Wiki tells me the multiple narrative technique associated with Modernist novelists of the period which is likely true, and introduces doubt about who is telling the truth.

Moving on to the spoilers, it is less a detective story than a crime story, in that the cast of villains is thin, the guilty party emerges naturally, and the plot moves onto exactly how the dark deed was done. By this point I'd guessed the Key Insight - chirality - though to be fair this is easier with modern A level chemistry than it would have been in 1930; apparently the very plot idea had been supplied to her. This alas is something of a weakness as, strangely enough, the idea doesn't fit naturally. The solution is introduced into the plot via an adventitious vicar who knows an implausible number of dons, and whose conversation drifts onto the subject. The idea then has to be hammered home to the reader who also can't be expected to be familiar with it, so it becomes laboured. When the congress of dons was convened at the vicar's I was so sure this was going to come out that I was skipping pages of vague philo-scientific waffle that were clearly just there as smokescreen to disguise the introduction of the concept; and sure it enough there it was. Further I somewhat doubt that our medico-chemical examiner would have negelected this trivial test. Further I strongly doubt that the guilty party could reasonably have been expected to know what concentration of muscarine is present in fungi, so would have had no idea what strength to make up the solution to; at the very least, it would have been plausible to ask as to the concentration, and this is never done - because, of course, our author knows the true answer.

Putting the poison into the broth is a bit dodgy sez oi, because any kind of cook, and Mr H was one, would certainly have tasted the broth before cooking with it.

The characters witter about various life-force ideas current in those days; the chemist they meet synthesising chemicals being charmingly naive about his chance of creating life; wiki tells me that DLS thought [The idea] touches the very key note of the mystery of the appearance of Life on this planet. There seems no escape from the conclusion that at some wonderful moment in the evolutionary process a Directive Force-From-Without entered upon the scene of Life itself. There is a bit too much of that in the novel for my tastes, but perhaps we can excuse it as 1930

Thursday 15 September 2022

List of holidays

PXL_20220819_095120851 One day, when my infants are older, they will look back and wonder where we went over the summers. Or so I fondly hope. Also, I'd like to know. So this is a list.

* 2022: Switzerland (blog in progress)

* 2021: I went to Switzerland (Saas Fee and Zermatt). Everyone else suffered from Covid.

* 2020: Ecrins, with D+E.

* 2019: Chamonix.

* 2018: Ecrins with E; Italy all of us; Dolomites.

* 2017: Ecrins, needs finishing.

* 2016: Norway (needs finishing). Ecrins (just me, September); needs finishing.

* 2015: Peloponnese without D. Stubai, with D and Jamie.

* 2014 Peloponnese. Stubai (just me for first week, with M for second) needs finishing.

* 2013 Lakes with Annie in July for a long weekend (day 1; needs finishing...). Main summer hols?

* 2012 Mallorca.

* 2011 Spain (via ferry; week one camping with Rankins; then off to Leon and beyond).

* 2010 Madeira in June with Mother: some pix. Stubai in August (just me? Why so few pix?). What else?

* 2009 Stubai by car: pix.

* 2008 Mallorca: pix.

* 2007 Kerouini, Brittany: pix.

DSCN7328-all * 2006 Llangrannog: pix.

* 2005 Llangannog (words; pix). Zinfandel trip pix.

* 2004 East Coast: pix. Llangrannog: wordspix.

* 2003 April Coombe pix; August Bigbury pix.

* 2002 Les des Alpes, March: pix. Quiberon, August: pix.

* 2001 Corsica in May: pix. Lescun in June: pix. Miranda born in October.


The definitive (digital) photos should be on Flickr. Writing this prompted me to check, and there are some missing. I dug out the old Maxtor and - heavens - it still works. But, there is a lot to check.

I uploaded photos/nikon/2000/12 (to 2000-12-maxtor) and then discovered that all those were dupes. I think. Then I downloaded the new Flickr PC uploader and tried 2000/11, and discovered they were all already uploaded. Including d-sleep-weasel which has unaccountably been given a 2005 date. I then tried all of 2000, and it found 109 more. Which went into 2000-lescun-maxtor. But some at least were already in 2000-06-hols. I find this confusing. I'm going to err on the side of excess uploading, at the risk of some duplication, though I believe Flickr does its best to de-duplicate.

2001: 1320 new. 2003: 1687 new. 2004: 969 new. 2005: 243 (all) new; Jan-Apr. 2006: few, none new.

nikon1: 2003: none new. 2004: 1701, 99 new... but 110 uploaded. Pardon? 2005 and 2006: none new. 2007: 46 new.

nikon2: 2007: 97 (99?) new. 2008: 85 (88?) new. 2009: none new.

nikon-d80: 2009: 614 (626?) new.

Sunday 11 September 2022

Book review: Feersum Endjinn

1662495261470-0373fa26-ac6e-44b9-861e-f4dd1fbe4d5d_ By Iain M. Banks. Read wiki (from which I find "Kirkus Reviews described it as 'Dazzling stuff: a shame it doesn't add up'; true dat, though I think "dazzling" rather over-sells it) or Goodreads.

The Bascule phonetic-writing stuff gets old very quickly, especially as it becomes clear it is entirely irrelevant to the plot. Fortunately, he's only one narrator.

For the rest: well, there is a story, it is reasonably entertaining - this is my second reading after a gap of perhaps twenty or more years - and frequently implausible and like most other such it doesn't really manage to sanely connect the online and real worlds.

As it becomes clearer that the central "castle" really is a giant-sized version of a castle as the ground terminus of a space elevator, I began to wonder how that physically worked, in a structure that is not modifiable. For example, in the "chandelier city", how do you get in? Are there rickety tacked-on ladders? Where does the water supply come from and where does the sewage go? Are there really, as there would be in such a real inflated structure, enormous "useless"spaces? None of this is clarified; instead, the building is largely inhabited and traversed as though it was normal, except the characters sometimes go "woo! It's a giant castle". So I think that aspect could have been better handled.

Friday 9 September 2022

Book review: The IPCRESS file

1662734654862-869dccce-97e5-498b-b55d-7fb7eb5dd7d0 Yet another re-read of this classic I first read in my teens. Wiki. As this review says, it has aged a bit. When I can remember the entire plot, or at least mostly, then the twists and turns seem less realistic, more dictated by the author's need for scenes; especially the pacific atoll stuff (and in retrospect, the idea of Jay's people being able to spirit Our Hero away under all that security is not believable; but at-the-time, you don't know it's Jay doing it, so you ride with it).

The un-named-ness of Our Hero is excellent; as is some of the dialogue such as “Hello Harry.” Now my name isn’t Harry, but in this business it’s hard to remember whether it ever had been. And the our-hero-captured who turns out to be in London bit is also excellent.

There are some bits I could quibble (the weird-for-a-spy obsession with people's clothes for one) but I have an affection for the book so I won't; Goodreads will do it for you if you're interested.


Book review: With a Strange Device.